Rational hedges its bets by unveiling new developments for Java and .net

Rational Software is determinedly sitting on the fence when it comes to Web services by providing support for both Java and...

Rational Software is determinedly sitting on the fence when it comes to Web services by providing support for both Java and Microsoft .net environments, writes Eric Doyle.

Dan Shiffman, senior vice-president for the practitioner desktop group at Rational, said, "We offer packages for Java developers and for .net developers but we also have a package which contains both environments. Across the board we are seeing a lot of evaluation sales, and the dual-package sales prove that some of our customers have yet to make up their minds."

At the company's user conference last week at Disney World in Florida, there were announcements covering both Web services environments. Visual C# .net and C++ support for developing .net services has been extended with the addition of support for Visual Basic .net and Active Server Pages (ASP.net).

For Java, the ability to do iterative testing - testing at every stage of the development process - has been added to improve software quality and to shorten the time it takes to achieve a successful deployment.

In many ways, the development process espoused by Rational is beginning to follow similar lines to the Extreme Programming methodology.

Testing at every stage of development is a basic tenet of Extreme Programming and even the concept of mentoring, where two programmers work in tandem on the same code, finds an analogy in Rational XDE (Extended Development Environment), where Web-based tutorials extend the abilities of developers.

XDE has added a plug-in, developed in conjunction with Extreme Programming evangelist Object Mentor, which disables some of the contentious elements of the Rational Unified Process (RUP). RUP is the guide that explains how to use the basic architectural model used by Rational, known as the Unified Modelling Language (UML), effectively.

The RUP plug-in also adds guidance for advocates of the Extreme Programming, offering a set of practices, road maps and activities that help developers concentrate on generating high-quality code.

At one time Rational was criticised for using UML within its products because there were few experts in the field and it therefore presented a steep learning curve to many potential customers. However, Schiffman said many of the graduates now moving into the development field have training in UML and what was once seen as an obstacle is now a major selling point.

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